My Back Recovery: Recovering from Chronic Low Back Pain

In every episode we share valuable insights from systematic research and clinical guidelines, as well as advice from experts dedicated to helping people recover from chronic low back pain. My Back Recovery promotes evidence based treatment options, safe training and expert strategies to help you make smart decisions about your rehabilitation process.
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My Back Recovery: Recovering from Chronic Low Back Pain




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Now displaying: May, 2017
May 12, 2017

Goal-setting can support your recovery from back pain and lead you to a better quality of life. Part 2 of this episode shows you proven techniques that help you in achieving what you aim for. + download your personal goal-setting sheet for free!!!

Get your free Personal-Goal-Setting-Sheet here


Part 1 was about what you should aim for in your recovery: 

  1. Increasing physical activity1,2,3,4
  2. improving sleep quality4,5
  3. managing stress4,6

 Now let´s dig in how goal-setting can help us in achieving that.

 In their Article from 2002 Edwin Locke from University of Maryland and Gary Latham from Univerity of Toronto sum up the evidence about what science knows about the mechanisms of goal-setting.7

Goals affect performance through four mechanisms:

  • direct attention and effort
  • energizing function
  • goals affect persistence, hard goals prolong effort (important for us, recovery process is a long term comittment)
  • goals affect action indirectly by leading to the arousal, discovery, and/or use of task-relevant knowledge and strategies


To sum it up: "Effects of Goal-Setting are very reliable. Goal-setting theory is among the most valid and practical theories in organizational psychology."7

Those with high specific goals reach higher performance than those who tried to do their best. It´s not always that easy and we will talk about what research tells us, what is important in defining goals that help reaching higher performance. And thats exactly what we are looking for.


They further conclude:7

a goal should be specific,

proximal goals should be added,

proper use of learning goals should be made.

What does this mean?


A general goal would be: Increasing physical activity.

A specific goal would be: Increase walking distance up to 20 min a day. Translated into a proximal goal: Walk 20 min every day for one week starting today.

And you could also add a strategy: Walk 20 min every day, before a get into the car driving to work starting today, or getting out of the bus-stop one station before my destinantion and walk there. Be creative!


So thinking about activity:

Set specific Goals.

Add a proximal goal and add a strategy


Be clear about why you are doing this!

You are not doing this right now to become instantly pain free, you want to increase physical activity, increase quality of sleep and manage stress because in the long run that is what you will benefit from and as aresult will increase your quality of life.


Start with something that you are confident to achieve.8

No doubt there should be some challenge within your set goals. Sucess in reaching your goals will feed your confidence and step by step you can start set higher goals for your self. Goal setting is also about self efficacy, which means confidence in that you can achieve your goals. So thats a reward on it´s own, and we need that in roder to go on with our recovery.


Goals lead to higher performance when people are committed to their goals and receive summary feedback.

And there are several ways you can enhance commitment.

Through factors that make goal attainment important for you

First of all write your goal down. Put your Goals somewhere where you can see them, so that you stay focused and you reflect upon them.

Having an accountability buddy helps in multiple ways. The announcement to another person will raise the importance of xour goals for you and if you hold a weekly conversation where you report about your progress or difficulties you will have a fixed time to reflect upon your situation and this feedback will enable you to find better strategies to overcome difficulties. 


Resource Section: Goal-Setting-Sheet

Get your free Personal-Goal-Setting-Sheet here

Set your goals for each day and at the end of the day reflect on them. Did you made it? Great! If not reflect about the reasons for it. Can you think of any strategy how to achieve your goal the next time you will be in the same situation? Could you ask someone for help if it is a time problem? Any strategy is better than no strategy. And by trying out new things you probably will come along with better and better strategies that will work for you.


If you are short on time, make it a 5 min goal. Maybe some stretching, or mobilisation-technique that you already know that you can do before you go to sleep.

Find more information at



  1. Sackett DL, Rosenberg WMC, Gray JAM, et al. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. 1996. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2007;455:3-5. Accessed December 16, 2012.
  2. Manske RC, Lehecka BJ. Evidence - based medicine/practice in sports physical therapy. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(5):461-473. Accessed December 16, 2012.
  3. Jette DU, Bacon K, Batty C, et al. Evidence-based practice: beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors of physical therapists. Phys Ther. 2003;83(9):786-805. Accessed October 5, 2012.
  4. Hooten W, Timming R, Belgrade M, et al. Assessment and Management of Chronic Pain.; 2013.
  5. Pakpour AH, Yaghoubidoust M, Campbell P. Persistent and developing sleep problems: a prospective cohort study on the relationship to poor outcome in patients attending a pain clinic with chronic low back pain. Pain Pract. 2017:1-2. doi:10.1111/papr.12584.
  6. Morley S, Williams A. New Developments in the Psychological Management of Chronic Pain. CanJPsychiatry. 2015;6060(44):168-175.
  7. Locke E a, Latham GP. Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. Am Psychol. 2002;57(9):705-717. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.57.9.705.
  8. Bodenheimer T, Handley MA. Goal-setting for behavior change in primary care: An exploration and status report. Patient Educ Couns. 2009;76(2):174-180. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2009.06.001.